Friend: Raleigh woman accused of leaving kids alone a 'good mother'
Posted August 25
Raleigh, N.C. — A Raleigh woman who allegedly stranded a kindergartner at a school bus stop and left three other children alone for hours is a good mother and a responsible person, a friend said Thursday.
Sarai Flores Lechuga, 29, of 3236 Calumet Drive, was charged Wednesday with four counts of misdemeanor child abuse. She was released Thursday afternoon from the Wake County jail after posting a $5,000 bond.
According to arrest warrants, an 8-year-old girl and boys ages 3 and 1 were left unsupervised at home for more than six hours Tuesday. The fourth child abuse charge involves a 5-year-old boy who attends kindergarten at Durant Road Elementary School and wasn't picked up at his bus stop, police said.
Under Wake County Public Schools System's policy, a bus driver cannot leave a child in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade at a bus stop if a parent or guardian isn't there. A bus driver took the 5-year-old back to a school district bus garage and stayed with him for several hours until he was turned over to Raleigh police.
All four children are now in the care of family members and Child Protective Services.
Flores has had a bad time for the past year or so, according to her friend, Bernardina Bautista. She has no family in the area, and her husband was deported after a domestic violence situation, leaving her to care for the children by herself.
She was kicked out of her apartment and had to stay with the children at a Salvation Army shelter for a while, Bautista said. She also had a difficult pregnancy. Whenever Bautista cared for the older children, Flores would call two to three times a day to check on them and would make sure they had clean clothes.
The friends attended church together, and Flores wasn't into drugs or alcohol, Bautista said.
She said she hasn't spoken to Flores since April – she lost her contact information when her cellphone was damaged – so she has no idea what happened on Tuesday.